A few weeks ago, HERO implemented a short pulse survey to better understand how employers were responding to the new childcare needs of employees resulting from school and daycare closures. The following is a summary of the results—some quite creative—all of which signal responsive employers doing all they can to support their workers during this unprecedented time.

Q1. What is your organization doing to assist employees, who can’t work from home, with childcare costs given school and daycare closures?

  • Concierge services, like care.com, helpr-app.com, Bright Horizons
  • Subsidized rates
  • Onsite or near-site care through internal means
  • Flexible scheduling to meet family caretaking needs.
  • Paying all benefits-eligible employees regardless of work
  • Providing a list of available childcare services in the area
  • Partnering with community agencies. Example: Local YMCA has opened up an infant and older childcare center for our healthcare first responders and given our clinical employees a reasonable rate.

Q2. What is your organization doing to assist employees, who are working from home, with childcare or childcare costs given school and daycare closures?

  • Established Employee Resource Group for parents which has had a hugely positive reception
  • Exploring concierge options, like care.com, helpr-app.com, and Bright Horizons
  • Offering extensive web-based resources for education and entertainment
  • Increased flexibility with hours and workload, including calendar holds during specific times so employees have no meetings at that time
  • Providing subsidized group childcare or subsidizing childcare expenses
  • Setting up technology systems to enable remote connection.
  • Implementing a new time code to indicate caring for family (not working). Enables tracking of COVID-19 related expenses, but benefits eligible employees will get paid for this family care time.

Q3. What extra efforts is your organization making to support the overall well-being of employees and their families?

  • Granting flexibility and understanding of unexpected challenges
  • Communicating regularly on the general climate and state of the pandemic, as well as the state and position of the organization.
  • Offering webinars on mental well-being
  • Suspending PTO during this time whether for sickness or caring for family
  • Providing a home office equipment subsidy to make working from home more comfortable (e.g., monitor, keyboard and/or mouse)
  • Providing funding for colleagues facing financial hardships
  • Allowing a negative balance on paid personal leave
  • Connecting frequently via Zoom
  • Expanding mental health support
  • Making EAP and Health Coaching available virtually
  • Developing a brief survey to assess staff interests and needs related to well-being during this time period
  • Offering Zoom LIVE well-being sessions from 6 am to 6 pm, every 2 hours on the hour for 3-5 minutes with guided meditation, movement, breathing, etc.
  • Giving guidance to managers about taking care of employees and how to help them manage work
  • Posting resilience and emotional wellness articles to our websites and on Facebook.
  • Hosting Virtual Happy Hours and virtual team huddles to keep everyone connected
  • Carefully procuring resources for employees around self-care, fitness, financial wellness as it relates to the pandemic
  • Buying lunch for essential employees. Rotating admin assistants to only be in the office 2 days a week for essential work and still being paid for full hours.
  • Placing screeners at all entrances and are using workers who are furloughed from their primary positions to help them have some hours of pay
  • We are leveraging any and all communication platforms to find ways to intentionally stay in touch.

Q4. What is your organization doing to support the community (locally, nationally or globally)?

  • Creating resources for all of our focus areas and populations, including diet, exercise, mental health, and more
  • Making some of our medical content free for client or public use, e.g. fact sheets and infographics on COVID-19, work-from-home tips (because we were 70% remote before our offices closed), stress management tips and resources
  • Partnering with United Way both for volunteers to offer assistance and for persons/groups to request assistance
  • As an essential business, placing signage at store entrances asking people to observe social distance standards. Added disinfecting wipe stations so customers can sanitize carts and baskets. Implemented hourly cleaning protocols for hard surfaces and reduced the number of prompts that require a customer to touch the pinpad at checkout. Working closely with suppliers to secure hand sanitizer and face masks for store colleagues to use during their work shift.
  • Crowd-source donations to local and national organizations
  • Promoting need for blood drives
  • Supporting our hospitals so they can more easily care for our community members
  • Drive-thru screening

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